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Inbox: The challenge is doing it again

Defenses push the envelope all the time

RB Emanuel Wilson
RB Emanuel Wilson

Jerry from Rockford, IL

What a great missed opportunity Mother Nature took away from us. Who else was waiting for Mark Murphy and Roger Goodell to ride the bikes on the way to practice? I know I was.

That would have made for tremendous video footage to be replayed in April 2025.

Michael from Berrien Springs, MI

Wes regarding rookies flashing in camp: " have to stick the landing." Do you think some of them might seek out Jonathan Owens' wife for some advice on that?

Please see yourself out.

Robert from Verona, WI

The Inbox is alive with excitement following the first preseason game, and it seems justifiable in my opinion. Not to be a Debbie Downer (I guess I'd be more of a Bobby Bummer?) but if you felt the need to throw some cold water on our excitement, what would you say?

I'll let your Madison-area neighbor handle that.

Matt from Fitchburg, WI

Not trying to be a negative nelly, but it was a preseason game against the Bengals' second-string defense. I think there's reason to be optimistic, but I feel like the excitement and expectations are creeping a little high for not having seen any regular-season play yet.

Perfectly valid point. In addition, whether against starters or not, two series is not a 60-minute game. This time of year provides building blocks, but there's no denying those building blocks are small before the real deal arrives. From my seat, the excitement from the first preseason game is more about the promise young players showed. They'll form the depth of this year's team and potentially take on larger roles in the future. For all those guys, the challenge is doing it again this week and next.

Rick from Trempealeau, WI

I thought Randy from Billings' off-the-cuff comparison of Sean Clifford to Favre is pretty interesting. Clifford looks pretty relaxed and has a "forget the last play, let's line up and hit the next one" attitude. I bet he'd also consider joining a pickup game if you asked him a la Vince Papale.

Lots of folks in the live blog on Friday night were tossing around Favre's name when watching Clifford. For those young QBs not in position to win a starting job, I wish they'd all take that approach in the preseason. I think they'd learn more, and faster, that way.

Shilo from Murietta, CA

Just finished reading the article on Josiah Deguara. I still remember when he absolutely annihilated a Viking on a block in the 2020 opener. I think his injury that year was a bigger loss than most people realize, and I hope he can get back to that level again.

The Packers have spent the past couple years figuring out how Deguara best helps this offense and what his role should be. They've got a good handle on it now, and as I emphasized in the story, it's more valuable than ever with the loss of Tyler Davis to injury.

Bob from Downingtown, PA

The ACL injury to Davis occurred on a slit-film artificial turf field. Cincinnati has defended their choice of turf in the past, even getting Burrow to endorse it. What is it going to take for slit-film to be prohibited in the NFL? How many teams (or foreign stadiums used by the NFL) have it?

I don't know what it'll take, but to my knowledge, just five NFL stadiums in the U.S. have the slit-film turf – Giants/Jets, Vikings, Saints, Colts, and Bengals – now that the Lions replaced their turf in Ford Field for 2023. Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London also has slit-film turf.

Craig from Appleton, WI

Have there been any updates regarding the injuries to the players besides Tyler Davis?

LaFleur said Luke Tenuta's ankle injury was the most serious of the others. Tyler Goodson has been seen at practice with his arm in a sling due to his shoulder injury.

Jacob from Rhinelander, WI

At the start of camp Rudy Ford was usually with the ones, correct? Did he lose his spot based on his performance or have the other options just done more to impress?

I don't know the exact reason(s), but based on how the practice reps have been divvied up since returning from Cincy, it appears both Owens and Moore are ahead of Ford on the depth chart. For now.

Brendan from Warren, MI

Good morning, Insiders. Much has been made about Keisean Nixon's abilities as a return man, and rightfully so, but how is he doing in camp so far as a CB? If I recall correctly, he should have been credited with a half, if not full, sack on the Bengals' opening drive, and he also separated a catchable ball from the offensive player, forcing an incompletion in tight coverage. Is he challenging to be the fourth or fifth CB, alongside Carrington Valentine? Or is he going to remain mostly a depth piece at DB?

Nixon is the top slot corner right now, so technically he's the No. 3, though I don't anticipate he'd just slide outside to replace, say, Douglas if he were out. So I don't know how you want to number them, but the top five corners on this team at the moment are Alexander, Douglas, Nixon, Valentine, and Stokes once he's healthy. They'll need more than those five on the 53, and that competition continues.

Scott from Palos Park, IL

Against the Bengals the GB secondary had great success challenging plays and registering a dozen passes defended. The hometown announcers mentioned how they were getting away with being aggressive, maybe too aggressive. As the team transitions to the Patriots is it possible that ML tries to get the joint practices called tighter on the outside to see how his secondary can react on the fly?

I don't know if he'd make such a request in practice, but if the Packers come upon a crew calling things tighter, they'll have to adjust. Defenses push the envelope all the time and roll with the results. That said, other than the play Valentine climbed over the back of the Cincinnati receiver, I didn't see any rather obvious missed infractions.

Eddie from Fort Myers, FL

During joint practices, is there ever any off-the-field work done together? Meals eaten together? I'd trade a few curds for some lobster or chowder.

I don't think the Patriots are bringing their own food. I didn't see the Packers loading brats on the plane last week.

Erik from Mansfield, TX

Did I read correctly that this was Kenneth Odumegwu's first football game, as in, ever? If so, my goodness, this must be like drinking from a fire hose, trying to cram everything into his brain in such a short time. Do you think his position lets that be at least a little easier as opposed to, say, RB or S where you have more varied responsibilities? Or is it just insanely hard no matter where you're lining up? He's obviously incredibly talented to be at this point, regardless.

I can't imagine how overwhelming that must've felt for a player's first-ever game action to come on an NFL field. Other than QB, I'm not sure the position would matter much in terms of the fire hose you referenced. What an experience.

Jeff from Omaha, NE

Whittling down that wide receiver group beyond Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs will be a tough task for the coaching staff. Does the offense demand receivers be equally adept playing inside and outside, or will they look at specific guys for specific roles? For example, Samori Toure seemed to play mostly on the outside last season, but he looked pretty good in the slot against Cincinnati. How will they build the bottom half of that room?

Great question, and I'm curious to find out myself. I think the addition of Toure's slot abilities boosts his chances. Guys who can contribute on special teams will help their cause, too. The only certainty in my book is Watson, Doubs and Jayden Reed are making the team. How it shakes out from there is very much TBD.

Joe from Eau Claire, WI

Will the Packers get to see Zeke Elliott in joint practices, or is his signing too last-minute for him to jump in this week? Seems like a great chance to learn if our run defense is trending in the right direction.

I don't know what the Patriots' plans are with Zeke, but Rhamondre Stevenson rushed for 4.7 per carry against the Packers in Week 4 last season, so he'll provide plenty of test regardless.

Jeff from Wauwatosa, WI

Hi guys, no question that Wilson was impressive but when it comes to RB3 I think it's all about ST. Which of our RB3 candidates do you think is the best ST player?

I believe that's where Patrick Taylor holds an edge right now.

Brad from Oshkosh, WI

I feel like we hear conflicting feedback on Wyatt. I read that he's going to be a beast and has made huge improvements, and then we get comments like Wes's where he's "making progress." Even comments on him from Clark a few days ago seem uninspiring. What should we make of this?

You should probably discriminate amongst your sources. Devonte Wyatt has shown considerable improvement, and the Packers are going to be counting on him to fulfill his first-round promise. But for anyone to say he's going to "be a beast" before any real games have taken place is just playing the hype game (and why it's true the baloney stops when Week 1 kicks off).

Bill from Fort Worth, TX

I took the last few months off from the Packers, as a mental health break, so please forgive me if this is an already-beaten-to-death topic. With the change at QB, I'm very excited to see ML have a blank slate to do his thing. Whether or not it was the case, from my perspective, it often felt like there was a heavy element of "collaboration" in order to keep the peace. Now, he has the wheel and a situation in which he can freely do what he believes needs to be done.

I agree to an extent, but I think folks have spent too much time trying to interpret LaFleur's installation of his offense with Rodgers as a negative. Yes, there was "collaboration," but that's also called "coaching." It's a coach's job to figure out what his players do best, and then adjust a system of offense accordingly. He's doing it again with Love, there's just a lot more unknown, and figuring out what he does best might take longer. That can involve sticking closer to the offense's base concepts until more is learned – hence my comment way back in the offseason about seeing LaFleur's offense in its more pure form. But there's still a process to it from a coaching perspective, no matter the QB.

Gary from Hope Mills, NC

Howdy II, both of you get to meet a lot of elite athletes, former players, and maybe even a few other celebrities through your profession. Out of all the high-profile people you have come across in your careers, who would you say would be the most famous, and did you get their autograph?

Well, I got to shake President Obama's hand at the White House visit in August of 2011. I did not get his autograph, but I don't think anything will top "meeting" POTUS.

Kevin from Rock City, IL

Ah Weston … you finally got me with "If you try to watch everything, you see nothing." I used to have a sign in my office, "If everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority." Just content reading since the early "Ask Vic" years, I now have to give up my "lurker status." I once sought out both you and Spoff and got a picture at the Packer tailgate in Chicago a few years ago. (Yes, that was me asking loudly "Where's my lunch?!" while Wayne was introducing you.) Retired/still reading.

Consider yourself exposed, and welcome to the gang.

Gary from Sheboygan, WI

Insiders, if all the fans' hopes and expectations are to be fulfilled we are going to need a bigger roster.

'Tis always the case.

Ethan from La Crosse, WI

A reminder is in order. Optimism is always high for young guys and UDFAs this time of year. While there's only 53 roster spots, they are not permanent. Some that miss the initial 53 will be signed to the practice squad and be expected to contribute after the inevitable injuries occur. It's even possible some who miss the practice squad will be signed later in the season. This is not the end-all, be-all, just the beginning.

Happy Wednesday.

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